The Greek Islands
Holiday travel guides to the islands of Greece
Greek island holiday offers 2014
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This is a Greek Islands Postcards site. As well as holiday guides to all the main islands and resorts we offer listings of Greek hotels ferry timetables and holiday offers from holiday and hotel companies. Wherever you choose to go you can find cheap holidays for you and the family at Thomas Cook
As an antidote to the usual gushing Greece holiday brochures we offer a more prosaic peek at holiday travel in the Greek islands with unbiased reports and independent guides to the best Greek beaches.
Our Popular Greek islands list those in greatest demand. They usually have their own airport and plenty of tourist attractions.
The Peaceful islands tend to be off the main tourist trail and, while some have larger airports, others may need a ferry journey to reach them
The Sleepy islands are well off the tourist track and may only be reached by ferry, with some a considerable distance from the nearest large airport
Our Offbeat islands are mainly for those seeking a more remote and authentic Greek islands holiday.
Seaplane services for the Greek Islands
Seaplane services between the Greek Islands come ever closer as more islands give the go-ahead to build waterway landing strips. Port authorities are giving the green light for around 100 waterways this year with Zante the latest island to sign up. It means holiday visitors to the Greek Islands will soon be able to island hop by seaplane. It will not only mean more traffic for the more popular Greek holiday islands but will open up tourism in the smaller, more remote islands. Seaplane companies are keen to launch flight routes well before next year's holiday season kicks in. The Ionian islands look set to be the first to benefit with flights from Corfu expected to start this year but other island groups won't be far behind. A Greek relaxation of licensing rules has paved the way for the take-off in inter-island seaplane flights.
Featured Greek resorts
Barbati beach is a long strand of white shingle with an impressive mountain backdrop. Barbati will appeal to families looking for a quiet traditional beach resort with boat trips, watersports and a relaxed nightlife.
Trianda, along with Ixia is the main luxury hotel strip for Rhodes Town from five star luxury class hotels to all-inclusive family holiday hotels. Bars and restaurants are everywhere behind the long pebble and sand beach.
Picturesque Naoussa is in north Paros where sugar cube houses cluster round the port while Naoussa bay boasts some of the best beaches on Paros like Kolimbrethes, Monastiri and the wide sands of Santa Maria.
Scuba diving off the Greek Islands got a new lease of life when diving bans were lifted. Now Greek scuba dive centres are springing up everywhere to meet the demand. Until recently, diving was limited to just a few Greek island dive sites in order to protect the ancient underwater treasures that lie beneath its seas. Now scuba diving is allowed pretty much everywhere in Greek seas with just a few prohibited sites. The result has been a sharp rise in the number of Greek Island diving centres. In choosing one for your holiday be sure to check that instructors are PADI qualified and the wise will take out specialist scuba diving insurance just in case. That said, the crystal clear waters of Greece are teeming with marine life and there are some spectacular caves and shipwrecks for Greek Island visitors to explore.
Featured Greek guides
Achillion Palace also called Sissi has beautiful gardens and picturesque views over the Ionian sea on Corfu. Designed around the theme mythical hero Achilles its casino was used in scenes for a James Bond movie.
Dubbed the finest church in the Aegean, the Cathedral of Ekatontapiliani is in Parikia on Paros. Founded in 327 and restored in 1966, the dome has four, square pillars and inside is an ornate wood and marble screen.
Made famous by the hit movie musical, Mama Mia, the picture postcard chapel of Agios Ioannis rests on top of the 100m high rock with amazing views of the coast of Skopelos and over the sea to nearby Alonissos.
Every holidaymaker likes to swim and sunbathe on a clean beach, safe beach. So it's good to know that the Greek Islands has picked up no less than 393 Blue Flag awards for its clean beaches this year. Greece is now second only to Spain for the cleanliness of its holiday beaches. Among the leading Greek islands for clean beach awards are Crete (38) and Corfu (35) while the mainland coast of Halkidiki also landed a total of 35 Blue Flags. Other Greek holiday islands lifting clean beach awards this year include Rhodes (20), Thassos (10), Kefalonia (9) and Lefkas (6 )and Kos (5). To fly a Blue Flag a beach must meet 32 strict criteria on seawater quality, cleanliness, safety and the environment. Greece is now second of 49 countries worldwide awarded Blue Flags at 3,103 beaches and 626 marinas.
The Greek Islands have always attracted big names of film, fashion and sport when it comes to summer holidays but 2013 brought a bigger crop than usual to Greek holiday beaches. As well as regulars like Tom Hanks and Maddona, the islands have welcomed a host of newcomers this year. Actor Russell Crowe was delighted at his first visit to Mykonos. "I'll be back," he tweeted fans. Mykonos has long been a favourite of the famous and this year saw visits from the Kardashians, Naomi Campbell and Michael Jordan. Harrison Ford was spotted on Syros while Leonardo DiCaprio opted for beaches on Paros. Superstars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are regulars and they sailed into Kos and Symi this year while soccer megastar Cristiano Ronaldo spent several days at Elounda on Crete.
Ferries are a great way to visit the Greek Islands, especially if you like adventure. Greek ferries are not cheap but make up for it in comfort and reliability. Ferries are run by competing firms with sailings more frequent in summer. Firms sail lucrative summer routes in return for costly winter services to remote islands. Planning ahead used to be a problem but ferry firms have released their 2014 schedules early so it's possible to plan your route now. Regular Greek ferries come in all sizes and carry passengers, cars and freight. Smaller ships have basic seats and a snack bar, larger vessels have TVs, sundecks and cafes. Fast catamarans and 'superferries' ply busy routes and have the best facilities. Fastest are passenger-only hydrofoils - very fast but prone to delays in bad weather.
There are more than 6,000 Greek Islands but most are just lumps of rock. Only around 230 are inhabited and about 80 have a population over 100. About a dozen are major holiday destinations with another 20 having substantial tourist visitors. There are six basic island groupings: the Ionian lie to the west and contain holiday islands of Corfu, Lefkas, Kefalonia and Zante. The Cyclades are found in the central Aegean and include Mykonos and Santorini as well as lesser visited islands like Paros and Naxos. To the east are the Dodecanese and major islands like Rhodes and Kos as well as smaller ones such as Symi and Patmos. To the northeast is the Sporades group which includes Skiathos and the north Aegean group of Samos, Lesvos and Thassos. To the south is Crete - big enough to be on its own.